I've been thinking more the last couple of years about a legacy, and leaving something that exists beyond myself. This has usually manifested itself in creative projects -- songs and stories I want to write that I hope future generations will enjoy. Naturally, this can be a daunting task, as so much content is created every day that really only the best of the best is ever remembered long term, right? And then I thought about the faraway future, hundreds and thousands of years from now...what art from today, this century, this millennia, will even be around anymore? Little to none. The thought brings the whole house of creation down in a lackluster smash of futility.

Is this desire to create for something beyond me even right? I'm sure it's natural, to want to be remembered for something you did, but is it biblical?
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
This is our truest calling, right? And what are these treasures but doing good to others, showing the love of God to the world, preaching the gospel, healing, freeing people, making disciples. This is the best thing we can do in this life, and the only thing that really lasts. When this world has crumbled into nothing we can look around and see the folks we brought with us to heaven, not anything we bought or made here on earth. And so an other-centered life becomes our legacy.

But is there a marriage between the two? I feel a desire to be creative and believe it comes from God, acting like him, the ultimate Creator. What if what I create is centered around impacting others, building a foundation of art and truth for the next generation to carry on and continue? I can settle with that, and though I have some projects that are maybe more noble than others in this context, I'll just try to focus on the better ones and finish the selfish art when (if) I have time.

My most recent endeavor: getting this album mixed and mastered.

Still struggling with this concept, but feeling sort of settled, I carried on. But then God threw a curve ball at me by showing me that there is value in creating in this life. There were a few voices that lent itself to this shift in philosophy, though the strongest was a TV series titled American Epic (God speaks through things that aren't "Christian," by the way, in case perhaps you thought otherwise). It chronicles the invention of music recording equipment in the US, and how in the early 1900s, a few music producers traveled the country and held auditions, recording musical acts from all the over country that had never been heard outside of their own communities. The show is filled with artists upon artists that I had never heard of, or maybe just heard the influence of, that greatly shaped American music, and even my own tastes and creativity.

After watching all of this, and listening to a couple other voices, as I mentioned, I felt that God was telling me, "No Rick, what you make does matter." Some of these artists made a little money on the recordings (our typical barometer of success) and then died, never to know that their songs would be discovered for generations after, inspiring new music and new community. They all played a little part in their lifetimes, some having impacted their societies and cultures more than others, but their art lived on and people like me are still affected by it.

I highly recommend checking this out. It is streaming on Amazon now.
Of course this idea of creating for the eventual benefit of others is still central, because these recordings are influential mostly because the hearers are prompted to build community around the music, as well as inspired to create their own art afterwards. So I suppose the conclusion I am coming to (which is really no conclusion, but just a more complete view of the still-blooming image), is that it all matters: the art itself and the people who take it in.

I imagine that it is all one generation building upon the previous, and for the next; countless foundations fashioned on top of each other, branching off and inventing new structures, all leading up to...? God only knows what. And I am thankful that we serve a God who is creative, loves art (just look at nature, or read the poetry and songs in scripture), and seems to encourage his children to do the same.